Holiness vs. Perfectionism
It is important not to mix up “holiness” with “perfectionism”. God asks us to be holy. It is not the same as aiming for perfection on an absolute scale. In fact, the “meaning” of holiness is different from one person to another. How can that be? You may ask. Let us return to the car analogy. God has created each of us to His delight, according to His will and plan. In His plan, no two persons are identical, even if they are identical twins. We are all unique in God’s eyes. We are all one-of-a-kind custom-built cars, with unique combinations of features and functionalities based on what we are called to accomplish in life. When a car is driven to its best performance according to the specifications, it has accomplished its mission!
Similarly, to be holy is to strive to become the person we are called to be, to live out our fullest potential, and to achieve the unique mission we are called to accomplish on earth. And we begin to do so by attending promptly to the inspirations of the Spirit in our daily lives. This requires us to live well at the present moment, being always attentive to the motions of the Spirit. When the inspiration comes, we offer our free will to follow His prompts, while at the same time, resisting the temptation to be in control. Letting go of our control relieves us from all the stress and burdens. Again, think of it this way. Who is a better driver of a car than its designer and creator? If we let the Holy Spirit be the driver as well as the main provider of the fuel for our engine, we are guaranteed to cruise through life easier than what we would have ever imagined!
That's why Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
– (Bible: Matthew 11:30)
It is important not to compare our paths to holiness to anyone else's.
“God calls us to perfection, but he is not a perfectionist.”
– Fr. Jacques Philippe
“Perfection is reached not so much by external conformity to an ideal as by inner faithfulness to God's inspirations.”
– Fr. Jacques Philippe
Inspirations are the Holy Spirit's way of coaching us along this path to holiness, and to direct our efforts to areas that God wants us to focus on.
Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for your enlightenment as I learn my way to holiness. Teach me not to be a perfectionist as I strive for holiness, but in every step, learn to be attentive and conform to the prompts of the Spirit, to become the best version of myself in your eyes. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen!
Novena to the Holy Spirit:
Invocation Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, and console me. Tell me what to do, direct my every choice.I promise to submit myself to all you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will.Grant this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Day Four Desiring the Spirit“ Belief” Luke 11:9-13: And I tell you, ask and you will receive: seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For anyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.